Reinsurance firms meeting in Monaco this week at the 60th edition of Les Rendez-vous de Septembre believe that premiums will more or less stabilise in 2016 after five years of decline. The $600 billion reinsurance market is a backstop for insurers when faced with heavy claims for events such as natural disasters.
The annual gathering, the most important in the industry, always precedes the Monaco Yacht Show.
“The rate decreases have slowed down and we actually have seen a more flattish market,” Ulrich Wallin, chief executive of Hannover Re, told a media briefing. “Things look a little more optimistic than a year ago … (but) we are not expecting a broad-based hardening of the market as yet,” he added.
Ratings agencies, speaking last week, said premiums could fall by up to five percent in 2017, following similar price falls this year, which had hit returns. Reinsurers’ return on equity averaged 8.6 percent at the end of June, down from 10.3 percent at the end of 2015, ratings agency Moody’s said.
“The worst-hit reinsurers are likely to be smaller, less diversified and operating in markets where premiums have fallen to the point where they are barely covering the cost of capital,” Fitch said. “These firms may become acquisition targets as stresses leave them more likely to accept lower valuations.”